Did you get out to Devils Slide last week? Having driven this road so many times it was always a tease. You knew there was a majestic view but in a car you really only ever had a moment to appreciate it. It really is a gorgeous spot to hike.
This week’s adventure is up over the bridge to Muir Woods. Here you can get the impression of where Dinosaurs lived or pretend you are looking for a Storm Trooper on a Speeder Bike on the forest moon of Endor (although they filmed the Ewok scenes much north of here in Redwood National Park).
Luckily we are getting some much needed rain, and you might think that it isn't a good idea to go out, but then so so a lot of other people. Muir Woods has very limited parking, and is perhaps one of the most visited parks anywhere. But if you can manage an early start, prepare for weather (and maybe a little mud) you will have a great chance to enjoy an incredible spot. A good deal of the trail is paved or planked, but if you want to venture further there might be some mud.
Our primary spot this trip is Muir Woods, so options 2 and 3 today are mentioned more for fallbacks in case you cannot find parking or the weather is really too terrible to be out. I'm looking to make a day out of these locations in a later letter, so I'll be brief on the details here.
Also let us know if you go, we would love to hear about your trip. Simply reply to this e-mail. And please feel free to forward this to a friend.
1-2-3 Things — A Venture Up To Muir Woods
Quick inspiration for a day out with the kids around the SF Bay Area
Junior Park Rangers Patrolling Muir Woods
The Bay Model
The Discovery Museum
Junior Park Rangers Patrolling Muir Woods
It seems like every time I've taken the kids to Muir Woods, it's been raining. A good thing to know is that in the gift shop you can buy a pretty cheap rain poncho for under $5, but it's best to be prepared. It's going to be a wet winter, so it might be a good opportunity to invest in a raincoat. We also used our Alite Designs Meadow Mat (http://shop.alitedesigns.com/alite-shop.html#blankets - we love this blanket) draped over a bench so we could sit and have lunch along the trail.
Kids entry is free, adults is $10. There is also a plan to put a parking reservation system in the next couple of years, and I have a feeling visiting the park will get really tough once that's in place. (Have you tried to book an Alcatraz tour recently?)
When you pay for your entry, be sure to ask about the Junior Ranger Program. This was a longer booklet, but both my kids were able to get through it (with a little help). I love how they get sworn in and receive a lovely laser cut wooden badge by a real ranger. You can get the junior ranger booklet at the visitors center, the first building as you enter the monument, attached to the ticket window.
Once you walk in a little ways there is a gift shop and cafe which considering where it is, they offer pretty reasonable fare. We picked up a redwood butterfly for my youngest, and some redwood earrings for my oldest on our way out.
For our hike we started with the main trail and walked up past the 4 bridges. Hiking along the Redwood Creek trail we stopped several times to work on out Junior Ranger books, and we ran into a ranger lead talk at the Pinchot Tree in the Founders Grove. Walking on the short path here behind the tree we saw hundreds of ladybugs wintering. The trail continued on through the Cathedral grove (a great spot for photos, but stay on the trail) and on up to bridge 4.
At the ranger talk, we learned a few things like this type of forest has been around since the time of the dinosaurs. So you could imagine them stalking around here quite easily. Many of the trees are over 1000 years old, living an average of 500-800 years. The oldest known was 2200 years old. Originally part of the Rancho Sausalito, William Kent purchased the forest in 1905 with his wife. Two years later they had received an eminent domain notice from the North Coast Water Company in order to secure rights to build a dam here. He then worked with Gifford Pinchot to donate the land to the federal government in order to circumvent the water company's plan, and President Theodore Roosevelt declared the valley a National Monument. It takes an act of Congress to create a national park, and the President can use an executive action to create a national monument. They decided to name it after their friend John Muir. Kent later became a congressman and helped establish the National Park Service.
Once we got to bridge 4, we crossed to the other side and hiked up a bit to a hillside trail which ends around bridge 2. From there we continued through the Bohemian Grove and down to bridge 1 where we crossed back.
After our stop at the gift shop offering a chance to warm up a little, we headed back out to the visitor center, finished up our junior ranger books, and for sworn in. Overall we were at the park about 3 hours and hiked about 4 miles, climbing 8 flights of stairs.
The Bay Model (Free)
Tuesday - Saturday 9AM - 4PM
Sausalito, CA 94965
The Bay Model is a three-dimensional hydraulic model of San Francisco Bay and Delta areas capable of simulating tides and currents. It is over 1.5 acres in size and represents an area from the Pacific Ocean to Sacramento and Stockton, including: the San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun Bays and a portion of the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta.
The Discovery Museum
Saturday - Sunday 9AM - 5PM
Tuesday - Friday 9AM - 4PM
One-of-a-kind location at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge on 7.5 acres of National Park land, the Bay Area Discovery Museum facilitates child-directed, open-ended, inquiry-driven learning through hands-on exhibitions, rich activities and risk- friendly challenges designed to ignite creativity, as well as STEM skills and critical thinking.
- Sausalito and Mill Valley aren't far away and are lovely spots to stroll around and grab a hot drink.
- If you have the time lapse video feature on your phone, it can be pretty fun to follow your kids filming them walk up the trail for a bit.
- If you have the Panorama feature in your phone, try turning it perpendicular to get a floor to sky picture of some of the trees.
- A lot of Mt. Tamalpais trails intersect with the park, and camp Alice Eastwood is a bit further of a hike. Maybe plan a spring or summer camping trip up here and take a daytime hike to Muir Woods.